If Žalgiris Kaunas wants to reach the top ten, their star Keenan Evans will have to continue his good momentum. Source: Eitvydas Kinaitis/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
If Žalgiris Kaunas wants to reach the top ten, their star Keenan Evans will have to continue his good momentum. Source: Eitvydas Kinaitis/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Setting the record straight: At the end of the EuroLeague regular season, almost everything is on the line!

Basketball OlyBet 26.03.2024

There are only three rounds and a little less than three weeks left until the end of the EuroLeague basketball regular season. For the thrill-seeking fan, most of the table is completely unclear.

But let’s start with what is clear. The regular season is won by Real Madrid with 25 wins and six losses, which is five wins ahead of the closest pursuers. You don’t have to be a Pythagoras to understand why Real is on top of the table in mid-April…

Winning the regular season is a double-edged sword when you look at history. In the quarterfinals, you have the home-field advantage, but in today’s EuroLeague, no team has won both the regular season and the coveted title. Olympiacos came very close to it last year, but Real legend Sergio Llull’s difficult midfield shot took the trophy from them at the last second.

Worthy of mentioning is that Real has already got a EuroLeague record to its name. The current regular-season format of the Old World’s strongest club series – with all 18 clubs playing each other home and away – has been in place since the 2019/20 season, with a best of 24 wins previously. More precisely, in three out of four seasons, the winner has reached this number, in 2021/22 Barcelona secured 21 victories.

A last-ditch effort

Although it is still mathematically possible for ALBA Berlin to climb from last place, it is impossible to expect a club that has defeated only five opponents in 31 matches so far to collect at least two wins in the last three games. That’s how much it would take to hand the red lantern to Villeurbanne’s ASVEL, but that too only if the French club fails to win any matches.

Source: Imago Images

Belgrade’s Crvena Zvezda also has a mathematical chance to improve their position, but that too would be a bigger surprise and would most likely mean that the Serbian club needs to win all three remaining matches. However, this would be a surprise as Zvezda has won only two of their last ten games.

So, the table will probably be as follows: Zvezda will be 16th, ASVEL 17th and ALBA 18th. However, all the remaining places between Real and Zvezda are open, that is, 14 clubs continue to fight hard.

Who will get a home-court advantage, and who will make it to the playoffs?

Only one win separates the second and sixth places. In there, we’ll find, Panathinaikos of Athens, Monaco and Barcelona who have 20 wins and Olympiacos and Fenerbahce of Istanbul who have defeated their opponents 19 times. In fact, 18-win Maccabi Tel Aviv could also be added to that lot.

To get the home-court advantage in the quarterfinals, it is necessary to finish among the first four, where there are three free places thanks to Real’s victory. Most likely, two of them will be taken by Panathinaikos and Monaco, who have a favourable schedule at the end of the season and whose current state is very good.

The favorite for the last available place is Fenerbahce. Yes, they will be behind Barcelona by a win, but the Turkish giant will play two of the next three games at home, where they have won 14 out of 15 games this season. In the 34th round, i.e. the round that marks the end of the regular season, they will visit Olympiacos, whom they managed to beat by two points in November.

The top six earn a direct pass to the quarterfinals. Maccabi’s cards may be shuffled in this fight, but it seems more likely that the current top six will remain in place, only some places may change.

Source: Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

A mix and mash

This season is the first in the EuroLeague, where the play-in familiar from the NBA is used. In the Old World’s strongest series, this means that the keepers of seventh to tenth place in the regular season play a mini-tournament, with the top two advancing to the top eight.

The seventh and eighth and ninth and tenth-place teams play first. The winner of the first match goes directly to the quarterfinals, the loser gets a second chance when they meet the winner of the ninth and tenth battles. Whoever scores more points in this game is the last quarterfinalist. In the playoff, the winner of the first game will meet with the runner-up of the regular season and the last quarter-finalist meets with Real.

At the moment, only one club can feel completely confident about the play-in: Maccabi cannot drop out of the top ten, as they are separated from the 11th place by four wins with only three rounds to play. In essence, the participation of Bologna Virtus and Baskonia is also certain, because they have one and two victories less than the Israeli giant, respectively.

Onwards… It’s hard to find the words to do justice to the fight for tenth place. So, let’s talk about the facts: the last six clubs who want to get to the play-in are all within one win. Starting from tenth place, these teams are Milan, Partizan Belgrade, Valencia, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Bayern Munich and Žalgiris Kaunas. The first four have 14 wins, the last two have 13 wins.

Since the fight is so tight, it would not be surprising if the tenth place is decided in a dead round of several teams, which would give even Pythagoras a headache.

We believe in Partizan

Looking at the current state, Milan, Efes and Žalgiris are in the best shape of the six – they won both games in last week’s double round.

In this week’s round, things could become clearer regarding the play-in, if Barcelona beats Bayern away from home because then the Germany’s giant will be out anyway. Fortunately for the Munich club, the shape of the Catalans is as it is, moreover, Bayern have been very good at home at times.

A very important match of the 32nd round is also between Žalgiris and Milan. If the honor and pride of Lithuanian club basketball will lose in Kaunas, the party is over for them. If they win, all options will continue to be available.

Looking at the game calendar of the six competitors, Bayern and Žalgiris clearly have the most difficult task. The first of them will meet the leading teams Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Monaco, the second will meet Monaco, Real and Milan.

Things are a bit tough for Efes as well. It is true that they still must compete with their city rival Fenerbahce, but Tomislav Mijatović’s men have won only two of the 15 away games this season, which puts them second to last in the EuroLeague. And at the end, Efes needs to play both Fenerbahce and Baskonia away.

Valencia is just in a very bad place, both in the EuroLeague and in the Spanish Championship. Their calendar is not impossible in terms of complexity, but the shape of Alex Mumbru’s men just screams negativity.

Source: Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

That takes us to Milan and Partizan. The huge advantage for the Belgrade giants is that two of the next three games will be at the Štark Arena, where the EuroLeague crowd record was set last week – a little more than 24,000 spectators came to watch the game against Real.

Yes, this week in Serbia they host Olympiacos, who are also in dire need of a win, but the support of the home crowd can give Partizan wings. In addition, Zach LeDay, who lost his father the week two weeks ago, is back and playing for two men.

It is also good news for Partizan that although they must visit someone in the penultimate round, it is ALBA, who is at the bottom of the table. Even better, though, is that the regular season will end at home against Valencia.

Milan’s, whose game has fluctuated to a great degree during the season, last three opponents are Žalgiris (away), Virtus (home) and Maccabi (away). Three or zero wins can be expected from there.

Taking everything into account Partizan can be considered as the most likely tenth-place team. At the same time, the EuroLeague has repeatedly shown this season that wonderful things happen there, and it would not be a shock if Žalgiris is the last to reach the play-in.

Brace yourselves, dear EuroLeague friends, because the end of the regular season is going to be a blast!


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